Run for the Water 2013: A Unique Race Experience and Interview with the Race Director

I'm ready to race -- in the convenience of my own neighborhood! Photo: Dave Vollmer.
I’m ready to race — in the convenience of my own neighborhood!  Pardon the crazy hair, it was first thing in the morning and quite breezy. Photo: Dave Vollmer.

This past Sunday I took part in the 2013 Run for the Water, which I wrote about earlier this week.

Even though I had registered my oldest son and myself for the race, my son wasn’t feeling well Sunday morning so my husband joined me on the “race.” I was tickled that the group sent us t-shirts and race numbers, but I didn’t feel right running around my neighborhood with race numbers.

They sent race numbers, since we were officially registered, but we chose not to wear them for the running itself. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
They sent race numbers, since we were officially registered, but we chose not to wear them for the running itself. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

My results are below.

My distance, time, and route. All in one place on Map My Fitness. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer
My distance, time, and route. All in one place on Map My Fitness. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer

 

The Run for the Water race planners set up a group page on MapMyFitness.com that allowed the non-Austin area racers to upload their routes and times.

You can see my route listed in the lower right. I watched this page all day on October 27th and see over a dozen custom routes appear as 73 registered runners were taking part in the "virtual" race. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.
You can see my route listed in the lower right. I watched this page all day on October 27th and saw over a dozen custom routes appear. 73 registered runners were taking part in the “virtual” race. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.

My husband and I enjoyed a nice run in honor of the efforts to provide Burundians with clean water. There were 4,321 registrations for the races in Austin and 73 global runners who checked in using MapMyFitness. This is the largest Run for the Water to date. Congratulations!

After the race I had the honor of asking some questions of the race director, Michael Madison. He kindly took time out of his busy post-race activities to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the race.

GM: From what I heard, 100% of the race entry fees goes straight to supporting clean water initiatives in Burundi. I think that’s a wonderful thing to have happen, compared to other races that have much less going towards the charity itself. Who have been some of the sponsors for this race?

MM: Keller Williams has been our title sponsor for the last six years. Other sponsors include: Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, SandersWingo, Texas Running Company, Pizza Hut, Grande Communications, Whataburger, East End Ink, NUUN, Seton Southwest Hospital, Intel, Freeit, Soleus, Tarrytown Pharmacy, SoLa Dental, Frost Bank, Lola Savannah, Gilbert’s Gazelles, INK PR, National Instruments, MWH Global, MapMyFitness, Road Runners Club of America, ZEN Japanese Food Fast, pony sound, and BEAST.

GM: Who funded the logistics of operating a race?

MM: We’re able to make Run for the Water a great event due to the generosity of sponsors — both in-kind and monetarily. Also, Raceworks Inc in Austin helps with putting together and setting up the logistics of the race.

GM: How many volunteers helped out?

MM: More than 250 volunteers gave their time to the Gazelle Foundation for this year’s Run for the Water. Everyone did something to help, from giving one to two hours of their time on race weekend, some who provided 4 months and more of pre-planning, and there were hundreds of others in between.

GM: This idea of a global race, using a web-based app to connect worldwide runners is a fantastic one. I can see more and more events having a global option for those who want to support the cause. Can you offer any insight to how the idea came about?

MM: Gilbert Tuhabonye, the co-founder and inspiration behind the Gazelle Foundation, does motivational speeches across the country and people always want to know how they can support the cause and  participate in the foundation’s largest event, Run for the Water. However, people can’t always make it to Austin to run the race so we decided to bring the run, the cause to them —  expanding the awareness and education about what we’re doing beyond the Austin city limits. With the Global Run for the Water, you don’t have to live in Austin or travel to Austin to provide people in Burundi with access to clean water. You can support this great cause from any place in the world. Austin is all about supporting local partners. Working with MapMyFitness was a no brainer and it doesn’t hurt that they are one of the most credible fitness tools on the market.

GM: Can you tell us more about specific projects that this year’s money will support?

MM: Although the numbers aren’t final we expect the total raised to be around $150,000. Our goal in 2014 is to reach at least 12,000 more citizens. The race helps us ensure we can reach that goal. We will continue working in the region we’ve focused efforts on since 2009 where more than 40,000 individuals still lack clean water access. These water systems  range is size and scope but are all gravity-fed, requiring no electricity or power meaning they are that much more sustainable. Just to give you an idea, 2012’s run has enabled us to be well on our way to reaching our 2013 goal of providing 10,000 more Burundians with access to clean water with the completion of three water projects.

Good luck to the Gazelle Foundation on another successful fundraiser!

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Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 14. She serves part time as a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.